Save Cartons Save Money Recycling Project
With the recent attention on carbon emissions and carbon footprint gaining public attention, and Lowell youth looking for new ways to go green, the YWCA of Lowell’s Green Team and the City of Lowell Solid Waste and Recycling Office piloted the Save Cartons Save Money Recycling Project to divert milk and juice cartons created by schools from the waste stream. This pilot project was conceived by a group of YWCA Youth Conservation Ambassadors when they attended the Gulf of Maine Institutes (GOMI) summer conference to learn more about working locally on environmental projects to bring and global change. The carton recycling project was piloted this summer with nine schools and summer program sites that served milk and juice cartons during their lunches and snacks, with the goal of helping these sites recycle these cartons, reduce their waste disposal, and reduce their carbon footprint.
Milk and juice cartons are made from an especially high grade paper which can be made into new products if they are recycled. With the City’s single stream recycling, it makes it convenient and worthwhile to save them. Cartons are of prime importance because they are used daily on a large scale in almost all schools across the city. A student may use as many as 180 cartons or more per school year. That many cartons end up in landfills and incinerators. With the Save Cartons Save Money Recycling Project, about 2.5 million cartons in Lowell alone could be diverted from trash and repurposed each year, benefiting the schools by saving the money, engaging students in their own community recycling, and also motivating them to be environmentally responsible in a project with tangible results. The environmental impact of the Save Cartons Save Money Recycling pilot project was astonishing. More than 25,000 cartons were recycled over a period of five weeks: equivalent to nearly 1,550 pounds of cartons, while saving the large paper pulp tree. Moreover, by recycling these cartons, over 280 Kilowatts of energy were saved. Thanks to the efforts of our pilot sites: te Stoklosa Summer School and the Refugee Summer Program, the Pyne Arts and Lowell High SPED, Lowell High Summer School, Lowell Police Academy, North Canal Apartments, Lowell Community Health Center Teen Block, Greater Lowell Technical High School, and the YWCA of Lowell City Camp, .40 metric tons of carbon dioxide emission were avoided and about 1,900 gallons of water were also saved.
The process of cartons recycling is simple: drink the beverage, empty the remainder of the content, and putting the empty cartons in the recycling bins that are provided by the Save Cartons Save Money Recycling Project. The project is easy and affordable for all schools and site. The Carton Council, YWCA of Lowell and Lowell Solid Waste and Recycling Office (SW&R) provide support for this project at no cost to the schools. This support include buckets to empty all the cartons before recycling, barrels for carton collection, signs and project information, an carton pick-up through the Lowell Solid Waste Collection System. The YWCA and SW&R representatives help plan, monitor, and troubleshoot any problem. The YWCA helps to organize a Green Team to help manage and implement the project which reduce custodians’ work.
Schools that are interested in becoming part of the Save Cartons Save Money Recycling Project should contact Emmanuel Appiah from the YWCA at 978 458 9983 or by email [email protected] or Gunther Wellenstein at the Solid Waste Recycling office at 978 674 4309 or by email [email protected] Environmental projects like this one makes Lowell “alive, unique,inspiring ” and a safe city for all.